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North African spiced chicken with baby carrots, baby turnips over couscous (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

North African spiced chicken with baby carrots, baby turnips over couscous

(Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Flavour odyssey: North African spiced chicken Add to ...

Authentic Moroccan and Tunisian food often involves an intensive amount of prep work (not to mention long cooking times), but this recipe gives you all the flavour without the time commitment. The mix of spices used is enough to lend the dish a heady background, while delicate baby carrots and turnips impart freshness.

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The sweetness of prunes adds yet another layer of flavour, balanced by the citric hit of preserved lemons. Often found in jars at specialty shops, these lemons are an excellent addition to any pantry. If you can’t find them, substitute two teaspoons of grated lemon rind and one tablespoon of lemon juice.

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Ready time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 4

North African spiced chicken

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp cayenne

2 leeks, dark-green leaves removed

2 tbsp olive oil

2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp garlic, chopped

1 bunch baby carrots,

scrubbed, tops removed

1 bunch baby turnips,

scrubbed, tops removed

1½ cups chicken stock

18 pitted prunes

1 tbsp preserved lemon, chopped

cup cilantro leaves


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, coriander and cayenne. Set aside. Slice leeks at a 45-degree angle to make long slices. Reserve.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season thighs with salt, pepper and 2 tsp of the spice mix. Add thighs and brown on each side for about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add leeks to the skillet and sauté for two minutes or until the leeks begin to soften. Add garlic and sauté one minute longer. Add the remaining spice mix and cook until fragrant (about one minute). Add carrots and turnips and sauté for one more minute. Add stock, prunes and lemon and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Return chicken to the pan and put the pan in the oven.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the size of the thighs) or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with couscous or rice.

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